Ways to Communicate in Marriage – Step 1

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By Diane Cerven, LPCC

In couples therapy the number one rule I have is for each person to speak, ‘one at a time’. When we’re able to say everything, we feel connected. Of course, how it’s said is very important but let’s focus on going ‘one at a time’ first.

It’s a lot harder to speak one at a time. We’re used to saying things right away, even talking over each other. We’re also used to thinking of what we’re going to say while the other person is talking and not listening.

It’s miscommunication when communication goes quickly. We may hear one part, perhaps a fact that isn’t correct, or a misunderstanding our spouse had. We can get defensive and have a justification ready to say. Conversations can easily become escalated, frustrating, and leave us feeling unheard. Or if they reach a place of hearing it takes longer because of having to get through all the interruptions.

When I say, ‘one at a time’, I mean that we let our spouse talk without interruption and with our full attention. Don’t let internal dialogue, problems, and thoughts get in the way of your attention. When our focus and goal is to listen to their point of view, we’re able to have better communication.

‘One at a time’ is a small change that will make a huge impact. Hear everything your spouse wants to say before you share your side. Then it’s your turn to share.

This slower back and forth helps to stop arguments. You’re trying to understand them, then they are trying to understand you. It’s a first step towards better communication.

Try it this week and see. As we discussed last week, there are several ingredients to get to good communication but this one will help get the ball rolling.

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I do couples counseling online if you need help communicating or with other relationship needs. To schedule a counseling appointment, call us at 218-366-9229 (Park Rapids) or 218-444-2233 (Bemidji).  For those interested, I offer Christian counseling online.  Please let our office support staff (and me) know that you are interested in Christian counseling.  Learn more about LCA clinical staff here.


Diane Cerven, LPCC

Missed reading about using distraction skills as a coping skill, read more here:

How to Calm Yourself

Want to know about Mental Grounding Skills

How to Communicate in a Relationship
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